While Northwestern University maintains one of the highest 5 year graduation rates in the NCAA in all sports and the highest last year for football players, coaching changes on the basketball team resulted in several years of kids coming to play and then transferring after 1 or 2 seasons. The NCAA says that your graduation rate is the number of grads divided by the number of scholarships awarded to students 5 years ago .
Using this criteria, NU's Basketball graduation rate for the next 3 years projects to 50%, 50% and 33%.
In 1998 years ago, 4 students signed to play for then coach Kevin O'Neal. Collier Drayton, Tavaras Hardy, David Newman, and Steve Lepore.
Drayton and Hardy graduated in 4 years, no problem there, but David Newman and Steve Lepore decided that playing for KON wasn't much fun when you lost a lot.
Steve Lepore liked the idea of playing in the ACC - he transferred to Wake Forest.Both Lepore and Newman are on track to graduate from their new colleges this June, but the way the NCAA scores it, NU will have a 50% grad rate - and that's not quite correct!
David Newman was hurt then got in KON's doghouse and transferred to Drake.
There are a few things troubling about this graduation formula - first is the implication that all schools in the NCAA don't care about their players academics.
NU's Bill Carmody essentially chased his team out of Welsh-Ryan after the Big 10 tournament, even though Jitim Young wanted to start one-on-one workouts the next Monday. Minnesota, a place with a history of poor athlete academics, pulled 4 football scholarships because the students didn't go to class! Both of Oklahoma's 1998 recruits have graduated - one from OU and one from Boston College!
But there's the implied threat to schools with bad graduation rates from the new NCAA President Myles Brand.
We will provide incentives and disincentives to athletic programs in an effort to improve those numbers, Brand said. And if the incentives don't work, we'll look at sanctions. Those could be scholarships or, in extreme cases, that could be the [NCAA] tournamentBrand's comments came on the heels of a study of college basketball by Richard Lapchick - it showed that 12 of the sweet 16 basketball teams had graduation rates under 50%. Based on the criteria, NU would be lumped in with the 12 "bad boys," even though all of our 1998 recruits will graduate in 5 years, they just won't graduate from Northwestern.
So what's the solution?
There's a proposal out to not count transfers to other programs against the original school. That's pretty fair, but what do you do with the kids who come in for a year or two and then turn pro? Most of them sign contracts that technically set themselves up for life.
NU had such a defection last January when Soph Center Thomas Soltau came back from the Christmas break and announced he was turning pro and returning to Europe. He can go to college for free in Denmark after his playing days are over. His future is pretty set, does he count?
And the same thing with all the kids who leave early and sign Pro contracts. Is it fair to penalize a college that recruited a kid in good faith, when that kid goes out and decides to set himself up for the future?
I personally think that a college's graduation rate should be figured on the kids that finished that college against the kids that didn't while excluding those who transfer or turn pro.
If you recruit a kid who drops out and never finishes any school, or who plays for 4 years and doesn't graduate in 5 - that should be counted against you.
What College Basketball doesn't need is the establishment of broad, expensive programs to address the "problem." The hustlers are already lined up, trying to feed on the 6 Billion television dollars the NCAA gets and distributes to its members
What the sport needs is more College and University Presidents willing to fire a coach who fails to graduate 4 year players as much as they're willing to fire a coach who doesn't win...
And trustees and alumni who will back those presidents' decisions.
Here are the players who have come to NU to play basketball under scholarship since 1998, what they are doing now and their eligibiity class [in parens] next season
Entered NU Fall 1998
[2 Graduate/2 Transfers - 50% graduation rate!]
Entered NU Fall 1999
- Collier Drayton - Graduated after 2001Season
- Tavaras Hardy - Graduated after 2001 Season
- David Newman - Never came back from Knee Surgery - Transferred to Div II Drake
- Steve Lepore - Transferred to Wake Forest - just played final year.
[3 Graduates/3 Transfer - 50% graduation rate]
Started NU Fall 2000
- Winston Blake - Grad 2003
- Jason Burke -Grad 2003
- Brody Deren - Transferred to Creighton - is still playing [Sr].
- Aaron Jennings - Grad 2003
- Ben Johnson - Transferred to Minnesota - still playing [Sr]
- Adam Robinson - is playing at South Dakota State and should graduate this year.
[2 on track to graduate/2 transfers/2 injuries - 33% projected graduation rate]
Started NU Fall 2001
- Jitim Young - Still at NU [Sr]
- Ed McCants - played for a year at Paris JC - will be a Junior at U of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
- Casey Cortez - is still in Evanston - possibly at Kendall College - he is not playing college basketball.
- Andrew [Drew] Long - Career ending injury - still at NU
- Patrick Towne - Still at NU [Sr]
- Harry Goode - went to Rutgers but left team.
[2 on Track/1 Playing Pro - 66% Projected Grad rate]
Started NU Fall 2002
- Davor Duvancic - Still Playing [Jr]
- Vedran Vukusic - Still Playing [So]
- Thomas Soltau - Left Team to Play Pro Basketball in Italy
[4 on Track/1 withdrew - 80% projected grad rate]
Thanks to Craig Robinson, Mike Mahoney and Gregory Kane for filling in the blanks for the players listed above.
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